What follows is us taking a step back to reflect upon and attempt to explain what we’re trying to achieve with the Heckler project. We’re not doing this because we enjoy navel gazing – we don’t, we hate it! We’re doing this to clear up what we feel are a few misconceptions about our aims and methods.

The Heckler blog and the occasional papers we produce are obviously a propaganda project. What we’re trying to do is to reach an audience across the south of Essex in a bid to sow the seeds of anarchism in the minds of those folk out here who are pissed off with the way things are, have lost faith in the political system as it is and are looking for an alternative. Anarchism can be a very loaded term, hung with a lot of baggage. After a good few years in the anarchist movement, we have to be honest and say that some of that baggage may well be deserved! Which is why we tend to not use the words anarchy and anarchism liberally in our propaganda, focusing instead on terms such as solidarity, grassroots action, community action and empowerment.

A key part of what we try to do is call existing power structures into question. Some of that is aimed at national government and supra-national bodies such as the European Union. A lot of what we do is aimed at local authorities across the south of Essex where there is a very rich seam to be mined encompassing councillors and full time council officers. While challenging power structures is inevitably a serious business, when it comes to local authorities in particular, we do our level best to add our irreverent, piss taking sense of humour to the mix…

It’s not just the power structures that rule over us we want to call into question. It’s also anyone who sets themselves up as some kind of saviour. Which is why we’ve not held back from re-posting some valid critiques of the leadership (take a look and there is undeniably a leadership) of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Not so much with the Heckler but with our predecessor, the South Essex Stirrer, we did call into question what we saw as the cult of Jeremy Corbyn. The reason we don’t do that so much now is that with Labour’s fence sitting over Brext (those splinters must be getting bloody painful!), we feel that peak Corbyn has possibly been and gone.

Then there’s the Brexit Party. It’s disruptive and politics in the UK will never be the same again. Somehow, we think that’s exactly what the Brexit Party intended! It’s early days with this so while we’re obviously keeping a close watch on how people react to their campaigning for the European Parliament elections on May 23rd and how many MEPs they get elected, a deeper analysis will take time.

Suffice to say, politics in the UK really is in a state of flux and keeping up with that requires a fair bit of work. ‘All that is solid melts into air’ is a pretty accurate summation of where we’re heading. We try to analyse the situation as best we can but not being pointy heads, we can’t always guarantee to get it right all of the time. What we can say is that if – and it’s a very big if – radical, progressive forces can get their act together, this is the best opportunity there will be for a long time to really shake things up and bring about real, revolutionary change. What we fear is that this opportunity will not be grasped and that a bleak, reactionary future awaits us.

If there are any anarchists who do read our blog and paper and wonder why we tend to not always share their agenda, as politely as we can put it, here’s why… As stated previously, our target audience are those folk who are fed up with the situation they find themselves in and are looking for some kind of alternative. From our experience, the vast majority of people tend to be pretty apolitical and often it’s quite difficult to pin them down on the political spectrum. When a lot of the anarchist propaganda we read seems to be aimed at other anarchists or at people well on the way to becoming activists, we find that we have no option but to craft our own material to suit our agenda.

As we’ve stated previously, a comrade of ours said that if you don’t like the way other anarchists are organising, get together with your mates and organise in a way that reflects your concerns and ideals. Which with our propaganda and the work we’ve done with Basildon & Southend Housing Action on the estates is exactly what we’ve done! What we’re trying to do is use our propaganda to speak truth to power and at the same time, do what we can to support grassroots initiatives that serve to empower people and make them more ambitious in their demands for real change. It sounds easy on paper but in practice, all too often, it can be a thankless slog!

Almost last but by no means least, when it comes to challenging power structures, let’s hear it for the Gilets Jaunes over in France who have relentlessly kept up regular protests against a neo-liberalism that’s diminishing the lives of working class people. This really is a new form of mobilising and challenging the power of the state and the corporations. What we’re witnessing is nothing less than historic. There are a lot of lessons we should be learning from what the Gilets Jaunes have achieved…

We hope the above has explained what we’re trying to achieve and how we set about that task. We’ll be the first to admit that we don’t always get it right when it comes to propaganda, analysis and supporting grassroots interventions. Show us someone who claims they do and your probably looking at a barefaced liar! What we try to do is learn from our mistakes and move on, albeit in a changed direction. All we ask is that our critics take a bit more time to try and understand where we’re coming from before launching their missives…